In 2013, Austin Schools Department of Comprehensive Health Services updated its school lice policy based on on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2010 and the 2013 update to the Texas Administrative Code (TAC Title 25, part 1, Chapter 97, Subchapter A, Rule 97.7). The schools allow students to attend with nits and allow students identified with live lice to remain in school until the end of the school day in an effort to reduce school absenteeism.
Following is the Austin schools’ policy as stated on the web site:
“Students should not be excluded from school due to head lice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Texas Department of Health support the that there is little evidence that exclusion from school reduces the transmission of head lice (Texas Department of State Health Human Services, 2007).
Head lice are common for children ages 3-12. Head lice are not a health hazard and are not responsible for the spread of any disease. They are the cause of much embarrassment, misunderstanding, and many unnecessary days lost from work and school. “No-nit” policies which keep kids with lice home as long as they have any evidence of an infestation don’t benefit these kids or their classmates and “should be abandoned” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010).
The goal of lice prevention, control, and treatment in schools is to prevent the spread of lice from one student to another student. Lice control takes teamwork among home, school, after-school programs, and events in private or public locations, including student visits in each other’s homes.
Questions regarding AISD Lice Policy, Protocol, and Procedures should be directed to the campus nurse or the Department of Comprehensive Health Services at 512-414-9778 or Office of Student Health Services at 512-324-0195.
Initial Identification of Infestation
Cases of lice should be confirmed by the RN, School Health Assistant or trained AISD staff.
All students identified with live lice will be sent home at the end of the school day after contacting parent/guardian by phone. They should not be excluded from school.
Parents/Guardians will be advised to treat their child for head lice. The name of the treatment product must be provided by the parent/guardian on the treatment letter. Educational materials about treatment and prevention should be given and explained to parent/guardian. After treatment has been completed, the student can return to school.
Based on the AAP, 2010 recommendations, alert letters will only be sent home in the event of a high percentage of students infested in a classroom. There is no need to send home alert letters for “2 or more students” infested as this may cause unnecessary public alarm.
Students identified with nits only will have their parent/guardian contacted to see if treatment has taken place within the last seven days. The name of the treatment product must be provided by the parent/guardian on the treatment letter. If treatment has occurred within the last week, the student may stay in school. Educational material about nit removal and prevention of lice should be provided to parent/guardian.
If treatment has not occurred in the last seven days, the student should be sent home at the end of the day for treatment and removal of lice (AAP, 2010). Educational materials about treatment and prevention of lice should be provided and explained to parent/guardian. Once treatment has been completed, the student can return to school.
Requirements for Readmission to School
Student must bring proof of treatment or a statement verifying treatment signed by parent/guardian. If the student has been treated and provides proof of treatment the student may be readmitted to school. If live lice are found at re-check, the RN should be contacted to assess the adequacy of treatment and counsel the family before sending the student home. The student may remain in school unless otherwise recommended by the health team.
Treatment Failures and Frequent Re-infestations
If live lice are found following treatment, the RN should be notified. She will investigate and make further recommendations to the family.” “In order for students to be readmitted for school, the student and parent must show proof that treatment had been done,” said Tracy Lunoff , the Austin school district’s coordinator of health services. “When the student returns to school, the nurse will recheck for lice.”
School Districts Surrounding Austin
Del Valle Schools
This district has a lenient lice policy. They focus on prevention and will allow a student to remain in school for the day with a few lice bugs for the day. The student is then sent home to be treated.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics determined in 2010 that having head lice does not merit exclusion from school. In December of 2012, the Texas Department of State Health Services eliminated the school exclusion rule for head lice. Del Valle ISD has researched the impact that head lice have had on district operations in light of the new DSHS law. After considering all alternatives, Del Valle ISD Health Services will focus much attention upon prevention of head lice, but will observe the following approach in addressing viable head lice cases (defined as visualizing any live lice or nits within ¼ inch of the scalp) that are discovered at school.
If staff notice that a child demonstrates signs/symptoms of having lice, they can refer the student to the nurse to be checked. The campus nurse will examine the child to determine whether lice are evident and how severe the problem appears to be. Should excessive lice be found, the parent will be contacted immediately and asked to pick up the child right away. Should few live lice be found or only viable nits, the nurse will attempt to call the parent and inform them that the child has live lice but can remain at school until the end of the day. If three or more students from the same class appear to have lice or viable nits, the entire class will be checked if time allows, following the guidelines listed above. When viable lice or nits are found, the nurse should check the student’s siblings attending the same school; if the siblings attend another school, the nurse should notify the nurse at that school to check them. Upon going home, the child is to take comprehensive information about head lice management and the ‘Head Lice Evidence’ letter home with them. The ‘Student Lice Exposure’ letter is to be sent home with classmates. Nurses may at their discretion, give lice shampoo to parents as well.
When the student returns to school, they should report to the nurse to be checked prior to going to class and prior to their parent leaving the school as applicable. If an improvement is seen (i.e., no live lice, and nits father than 1/4″ from the scalp or no nits), the student will be allowed to go to class and should be rechecked in one week. If the child continues to exhibit symptoms of lice or viable nits, they will be sent home until they are treated properly.”
More information: delvalle.tx.schoolwebpages.com
San Marcos Schools
Students with live lice are sent home to be treated but there is no longer a “no nit” policy. “If a student is found with active, adult head lice, he/she shall be excluded from attendance. The parent/guardian of an excluded student shall receive information about recommended treatment procedures and sources of further information. The student shall be allowed to return to school the next day and shall be checked by the health office before returning to class. Once he/she is determined to be free of active lice, the student may be rechecked weekly for up to six weeks.”
More information: www.smusd.org
Round Rock School District
Round Rock schools have dropped their “no nit” policies as advised by the American Association of Pediatrics.
“The process of transferring lice from one individual to another generally occurs from direct head-to-head contact. Transmission of lice is more likely to occur in the home setting versus the school setting. Lice do not jump or fly. They do not live off of a human host for more than 24 hours.
Mass screenings are disruptive and not warranted. RRISD will not conduct mass screenings. THIS PROCEDURE MUST BE FOLLOWED. Mass screenings increase the potential for lice phobia and unnecessary use of lice medication that can cause resistance. It is the parent’s responsibility to check their students head once a week. If 5 or more students have live lice, in the same week, in the same classroom, you need to assess what is happening in the classroom. You may screen this classroom as needed, but be very discreet about it. Other students should not know when you have found lice on a student. If the teacher notices excessive head scratching the student can be sent to the clinic for a check. A parent may call and want you to check their student’s head, which you can do. Parents should check their students head for lice on a weekly basis. Parents may not call and request that you check another student’s head. DO NOT DISCUSS A STUDENTS LICE ISSUE WITH ANYONE OTHER THEN A CUSTODIAL PARENT OR GUARDIAN.
Classroom or school-wide notifications may only increase public alarm and bring undue attention to the student with lice. To prevent unnecessary abuse of lice medication the state recommends that only the parents of children with live lice be notified. However, RRISD can notify a classroom in elementary school if 2 or more students in that classroom in the same week have live lice.
There is little evidence that exclusion from school reduces the transmission of lice. NO OTHER MINOR MEDICAL CONDITION WARRANTS SCHOOL EXCLUSION. The “no nit” policy is not in the best interest of the child, family or school. “No nit” policies have not put an end to lice infestation. The parent of any student with live lice only will be notified to pick up the student and provide treatment. The student’s condition will remain confidential.”
More information: cactusranch.roundrockisd.org
The Pflugerville school district updated its head lice procedure in April 2008 to allow children with live lice to remain in classrooms. The school nurse will contact parents and offer a choice of immediately picking up their children or waiting until the end of the school day. “It is the policy of PISD to NOT send children home who have adult lice or nits in their hair.”
More information: www.pflugervilleisd.net
More and more, schools in the Austin area are dropping “no nit” policies. If your child’s school still has a “no nit” policy, check with the nurse to see if any updates have been made.Learn About Our Lice Treatment Service in Austin